SINGAPORE: A total of 14 babies were diagnosed with conjunctivitis at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the hospital confirmed on Friday (Dec 12). It added that the last of these cases was diagnosed on Dec 1.
It also denied reports that the NICU was closed due to the cases of conjunctivitis.
Said Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong, Chairman, Division of Medicine, KKH: "We accept referrals from other hospitals for complex cases requiring tertiary neonatal care. As such, the NICU occasionally operates at maximum capacity and has to stop taking external referrals as a result. The NICU was never closed. It had stopped accepting non-urgent new external referrals because it was full."
"As is the usual practice when this occurs, we may arrange for non-KKH cases to be re-directed to other hospitals," Dr Ng added.
The hospital said that in mid-October, a baby under the care of KKH Neonatologists for other unrelated conditions was diagnosed to have conjunctivitis, which was likely from the mother who had visited her child.
Over the next two to three weeks, two other babies were also diagnosed with the infection, commonly known as "red eye" or "sore eye". KKH said the babies were immediately isolated upon diagnosis, and laboratory tests identified the virus that caused the infection as Adenovirus type 8.
"All three cases were mild, treated symptomatically with eye drops and recovered from the condition," said Dr Ng.
However, a further 11 babies, who were also warded in the NICU, were later diagnosed with the condition. They had been exposed to the initial group prior to their isolation. These new cases were also isolated and symptomatically treated with eye drops, said KKH. It added that no complications arose from the conjunctivitis, and none of the babies were in the NICU for conjunctivitis.
Apart from the children, another 12 staff from the unit were found to have conjunctivitis. They were treated and put on medical leave after being diagnosed.
"We would like to advise visitors who are unwell to avoid visiting hospitals as patients may be more susceptible to infections," said Dr Ng.